By Dagmawi Demeke
Business owners in Ethiopia looking to scale their business online in 2023, must carefully consider the online marketplace where they will sell their products. In Ethiopia, there are several formal and informal channels to increase the sales of products online.
But before anyone chooses and settles on one, several factors must be considered, including the audience’s relevance, the level of competition, and the fees and commissions charged by the platforms. In addition, sellers should also consider the visibility of their products as well as the reputation of the online marketplaces
In this guide, we will explore what business owners should be aware of before venturing into online sales and examine the options offered by the different online marketplaces in Ethiopia.
Who’s your target audience?
When it comes to selling online, it is crucial for a business to carefully identify its target audience and determine where they are most likely to shop. This can help you choose an online marketplace that will be most effective for reaching and selling to your target customers.
Here are some steps a business can take to evaluate its target audience and identify where they are most likely to shop online.
- Identify your target audience: Determine who would be most interested in your products by considering factors such as age, gender, location, and interests.
- Research online marketplaces: various online marketplaces and evaluate which are most popular among your target audience.
- Analyze customer data: If you have access to customer data, such as from a website or social media, use it to gain an understanding of where your customers are most likely to shop online.
2. What type of product are you selling?
When determining which e-commerce platform to sell your products, it is essential to take into account the type of product you are offering and which marketplaces are most suitable for it. Marketplaces vary in their areas of expertise and product offerings, so it’s important to select the one that aligns best with your business.
For instance, if you’re looking to sell used or new cars, Mekina.net can be an ideal choice. The marketplace charges a fee of 500 birr for 30 days of listing or 1000 birr for 30 days with an additional 10 days featured listing where the listing will be more visible to potential buyers.
If you’re a business owner engaged in the sale of groceries, then Asbeza is the intermediary you should consider to reach your customers. Asbeza has a select number of vendors with thousands of products.
Asbeza manages the stores for the vendors and uses a dropshipping method to deliver groceries to customers. The marketplace offers a wide selection of grocery items from reputable sellers such as Fresh Corner, All Mart Supermarket, Tapu Foods, Arada Mart, Planet Cheese, Spring Water, Shega Teff, and many more, all based in Addis Ababa.
However, Asbeza currently doesn’t allow vendors to register on their platform, so you will have to contact them for consideration.
300 Billion Birr- the size of e-commerce in Ethiopia in 2021 according to the Ministry of Innovation and Technology
For business owners who operate in a variety of categories, Ashewa can be a great e-commerce platform option to consider. Ashewa enables entrepreneurs to establish their own virtual store and offers features such as monitoring and tracking of crucial analytics like total sales, total number of products sold, total inventory on hand, and even total taxes.
Ashewa aims to be a platform that is focused on recruiting verified sellers, in an effort to eliminate the issue of mistrust that’s associated with e-commerce in the country. The platform also provides 24-hour support and is actively working on developing educational resources for vendors looking to sell on its platform. Thus, for business owners looking to expand their business beyond a single storefront, Ashewa can be a great option to consider.
On the other hand, if you’re a reseller without a business license, Qefira may be a suitable option for you. Being one of the largest e-classified platforms in the country, Qefira has high traffic and strong competition. It would be wise to take the time to learn how to effectively utilize the platform to grow your business before putting in additional effort.
Having highlighted how various platforms can cater to different types of businesses, let’s explore some of the steps that a business owner can take to identify the best platform for their needs.
- Research online marketplaces: Look into the different online marketplaces that are available and pay attention to which ones are most commonly used for the type of product you plan to sell.
- Compare features and policies: Each marketplace has its own set of features and policies that can affect how your products are sold and delivered. Consider which ones are most suitable for your product and business model.
- Look into customer reviews: Review customer reviews and ratings of the different marketplaces to gain an understanding of which ones have a solid reputation for selling similar products to yours.
Choosing the appropriate e-commerce platform for your business not only aids in reaching the correct target audience and enhances your online sales, but it also significantly reduces the workload associated with sales efforts.
Everyone wants to ride on the bandwagon of e-commerce these days. But they underestimate how tricky the market is, not to mention the true value of e-commerce, which is to make the lives of end-users easier, Tigabu Haile Founder and CEO of Eshi Express
3. Fees and commissions
When selecting an e-commerce platform to showcase and offer your items for sale, it is crucial to evaluate the costs and commissions that will be imposed by the marketplaces. Each platform has its own unique charging structure, and it’s important to determine the one that will be most cost-effective for your business.
Here are some steps business owners can take to research the fees and commissions charged by various e-commerce platforms:
- Identify the fees: Look into the different fees that each marketplace charges, including listing fees, transaction fees, and commissions.
- Calculate the total cost: Add up all of the fees and commissions that will be charged by each marketplace and compare the total cost to determine which one will be most cost-effective for your business.
- Consider the value of the marketplace: While it’s important to minimize costs, it’s also important to consider the value that each marketplace can bring to your business.
By investigating the fees and commissions imposed by different marketplaces, you can identify the ones that will be most economical for your business. This will help you optimize your profits and operate a more prosperous online business.
4. Ease of use
Having an easy-to-navigate and user-friendly interface for the online marketplace you choose can be incredibly important for both you and your business. A straightforward design makes it simpler for vendors to learn the platform and helps customers to easily find and purchase the products they are searching for. Moreover, a platform with a clear UI/UX design can expedite the process of creating new accounts and decrease the overall transaction time.
Platforms like Jiji Ethiopia can be ideal options for small business owners or resellers. It is designed for fast-moving products, making the process of listing a product extremely simple, all that is required is to create an account and provide the necessary information and your shop will be automatically created as part of the process. Due to the easy and straightforward nature of the platform, the seller dashboard does not offer many features in terms of managing your sales and only provides basic performance metrics such as impressions, visitors, and chat requests.
5. Customer support
As a business owner, it’s essential to select a marketplace that offers the necessary tools and resources to drive your success. These should include easily accessible FAQs, educational resources, a dedicated seller support team, and a clear dispute resolution procedure.
One method of identifying marketplaces that provide these features is through online research. Look for reviews and feedback from other vendors, and gain an understanding of their experiences with the support and resources provided by the marketplace. You can also check the marketplace’s website for information on their seller support and resources offered.
Another useful approach would be to join seller forums or communities, where you can interact with other business owners and gain their insight on various marketplaces. They may be able to suggest marketplaces that have worked well for them and provide the support and resources you need.
Internet adoption and the need for convenience have become ever-increasing in Ethiopia, so scaling your business’ digital footprint is the best way to scale in 2023 while keeping your overhead costs low. Thus, choosing the right online marketplace is something you should take seriously as it can significantly impact the success of your business. It’s worth taking the time to research and compare different marketplaces to find the one that best meets the needs of your business.